School of Rock burst onto London’s scene today with their launch at the New London Theatre (Gillian Lynne Theatre). School of Rock in London has some big shoes to fill if it is to live up to its reputation on Broadway with over 1/2 million people having seen it already on Broadway.
The show is based on the film, of the same name starring Jack Black with previews beginning on the 24th October 2016. Today we were treated to three songs from the show, ‘Teacher’s Pet,’ ‘If Only You would Listen,’ and the rousing ‘Stick It To The Man.’ One thing that composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber was keen to stress and which soon became pretty apparent, the children play the instruments themselves and boy did they do so with a kick-ass attitude. Finding these children was no mean feat with a total of 39 children being cast, 3 children to each role. Lloyd Webber was delighted at the depth of musical talent he found and the sheer enjoyment that the cast of children derived from playing live. From watching the extracts today these children are set to wow the London audiences as much as they have wowed in New York. Joining the children onstage today was David Flynn, who is taking the role of Dewey Finn.
Lloyd Webber’s journey in creating this show, in fact, stems from his own children and their love of the film. When he was finally forced by his children and wife to watch the film ideas began to form. It in fact took 7 years to secure the rights from Paramount. Along the way, he managed to rope in Julian Fellowes for the book, who joked that it was a natural progression from Downton Abbey.
Laurence Connor, the director was the final piece of the jigsaw who happened to be working with Lloyd Webber on the arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar and unknowingly mentioned to him what a good musical School of Rock would make.
All three of the creative team were keen to stress that this show takes you on a journey and by the end of the show each character is changed, for the better, through music. Laurence even told of the fact that when Jack Black, Dewey in the film, saw the Broadway show he declared the show ‘beautiful’ with ‘man tears’ in his eyes.
The show is set to be full of energy and very funny. We were left with a plea by Lord Lloyd Webber himself, “Come, enjoy and realise the empowering nature of music.”
School of Rock The Musical London
New London Theatre, Drury Lane, London WC2B 5PW
Running time: approximately 2 hours 30 minutes including interval